Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast television programmes then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

BBC Suppresses Director General's Wining and Dining Expenses


"We still need to bring proper transparency, accountability and control to the way we spend licence fee payers’ money", bleated Tony Hall, the recently installed BBC Director General, during a speech at City University a year ago this week.

Despite acknowledging the importance of qualities like openness, transparency, honesty, accountability, it appears Lord Hall is only prepared to go so far to fulfill the public's insatiable appetite for probing the integrity of the national broadcaster.

Today The Mail on Sunday reported how the BBC has worked tirelessly to suppress the release of information about how much TV licence fee payers' money Lord Hall has spent wining and dining individuals.

In a desperate bid to hamper The Mail on Sunday's efforts the BBC accused it of making "vexatious" Freedom of Information requests and argued that releasing the information would encourage it to make further enquiries.

The whole sorry saga has been rumbling on for the last nine-months, but fortunately the Information Commissioner's Office has just issued a Decision Notice compelling the BBC to satisfy The Mail on Sunday's request.

Having been pissed around on numerous occasions by the BBC's Freedom of Information donkeys, we have a certain amount of sympathy for The Mail on Sunday's cause. Indeed they have previously levelled the "vexatious" label at the TV Licensing Blog, as it's a convenient get-out when asked too many awkward questions.


Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, said: "It's very hypocritical that the BBC, which uses the Freedom of Information Act to get stories, doesn't want to show the same level of transparency it expects in others.

"The BBC is funded by the taxpayer and has a duty to respond to Freedom of Information requests about its expenditure. The Mail on Sunday has struck a blow for openness, transparency and accountability."

Assuming the Commissioner applies standard directions, the BBC will have 28 days to either release the information in full or appeal to the Information Rights (First-tier) Tribunal.

We look forward to seeing the information the BBC has been desperately trying to keep hidden.

Chancellor Forces BBC to Pay for Over-75 TV Licences


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, is to announce that the BBC will pick up the tab for "free" TV licences for the elderly.

The move, to be phased in from 2017, will force the Corporation to pay for 4.5m TV licences for households where at least one of the occupants is aged 75 years or older. Under current arrangements the Government pays the £145.50 annual fee for every eligible household.

It will cost the BBC around £650m from its budget - about a fifth - to pay for the 4.5m over-75 TV licences currently in force. However, new rules will allow the BBC to recoup about £150m per year by charging for iPlayer content, which is currently free to all.

The Government has grown increasingly frustrated at the top-heavy structure, cronyism and financial mismanagement within the BBC.

Speaking on this morning's The Andrew Marr show, the Chancellor said: "The BBC is (also) a publicly funded institution and so it does need to make savings and contribute to what we need to do as a country to get our house in order. So we are in discussion with the BBC."

The Chancellor played-down the scaremongering of various BBC executives - most of whom earn more than the Prime Minister - about the impact of the reforms: "I remember five years ago doing a deal with the BBC where actually the BBC took on £500m worth of responsibilities including things like the BBC World Service.

"I was told at the time by people 'They're going to shut down BBC2, they're going to close Radio 4'. They always seem to pick the juiciest fruits on the tree."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP, an outspoken critic of the BBC, is currently considering the future shape of the Corporation when its Royal Charter comes up for renewal on 31st December 2016.

The Government's first Emergency Budget will be delivered on Wednesday.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

BBC Boss Outlines Plans for "Simpler and Leaner" Organisation


The BBC Director General, Tony Hall, has sent an email to workers outlining his plans for a "simpler and leaner" organisation.

Lord Hall, whose £450,000 annual salary is more than three times that of the Prime Minister, explained how redundancies would be needed as the BBC faced a very difficult situation due to falling TV licence revenues.

Curiously his email made no mention of:
  • £100m wasted on the abandoned Digital Media Initiative. 
  • £25m in fat cat pay-offs. 
  • £33m in redundancy payments to staff subsequently rehired by the BBC. 
  • £3m cost of Nick Pollard's review into Newsnight's dropped investigation on Jimmy Savile.
  • £7m (to date) on Dame Janet Smith's review into the BBC's culture of sexual abuse.
  • £34m spent on taxis since 2012.
It will undoubtedly be the £15,000 a year researchers who end up suffering. Those BBC managers with their noses planted so firmly in the trough, and tongues lapping so adoringly at Lord Hall's crevice, will undoubtedly continue to receive the perks they're so accustomed to.

The full text of Lord Hall's email appears below:
____________________
Dear all,

I care deeply about this organisation – and the people in it. That’s why I wanted to share with you, openly and honestly, some big changes we’re making to make the BBC simpler and leaner.

There are two things going on, which make today’s announcements very necessary.

The first goes back to something I said when I came back here. I said I wanted a simpler organisation. It’s what many of you have told me too – and it requires a different approach.

Secondly, we’re facing a very difficult financial situation. Many of you have worked hard to achieve the savings we’ve made already. I know it’s been hard. But there’s more to do. And, before we do anything else that affects our programmes and services, we have to make sure we’re running the BBC as efficiently as possible.

I’m announcing four things – aiming to do just that.

Merging divisions
We’re looking at the number of divisions we need. As a first step, I’ve asked Ralph Rivera, Matthew Postgate and David Gibbons to bring together our teams in Technology, Engineering and Digital. And, that’s not just in the public service, but across Worldwide too. It’s just a start – and, over the next few months, I’ll be working with our directors to see what more we can do.

Cutting out layers
We’ve taken a good look at the structures across the BBC. In some places there are 10 layers between the top and the bottom of the organisation. I think that’s too many – and, in future, we’ll work to a maximum of seven.

Reducing management roles
I’m a huge believer in strong management – management that’s enabling and supports creativity. But the reality is, a simpler organisation, with fewer divisions and layers, will inevitably require fewer senior decision-makers in all parts of the BBC. I know this is hard – but it’s the right thing to do.

Simplifying procedures
Finally, we’re looking at how we run our professional and support areas – by which I mean all the teams, doing things as varied as marketing, finance, legal, HR and communications. They do a vital job for us. We’ll be asking how each area should be structured, how we can simplify, and standardise, the ways we work – looking right across the public service and Worldwide.

These changes will save £50m a year. And, you know as well as I do, that many of those savings will be roles that we close. We estimate over 1,000 jobs will go.

I recognise this is a very tough message. And, I want to make it clear that even though we’ll inevitably be closing posts, it’s not a reflection of the commitment or hard work of the people doing those jobs.

This is about structural change. It’s about doing the right thing – to deliver maximum value to audiences, in a very challenging financial situation.

I want you to know we’ll handle this decently – and fairly. There’ll be more opportunities to discuss all this today and over the coming weeks. And we’ll keep staff informed throughout, before any final decisions are taken.

Best wishes,

Tony

Director General